By Francois Huysamen
GT Campers was founded in 2012 by MJ and Elmien Fitchet after they could not find an off-road trailer that fulfilled their camping vehicle wish list.
What MJ and Elmien finally created is an off-road trailer concept that was never before seen in South Africa.
The biggest design element which sets the Libra (and it’s smaller brother the Spider) apart from traditional off-road trailers, is the roof that folds open to form a hard floor for the tent area, which is permanently attached to the trailer.
The combination of an interior with a luxurious feel and the rugged go-anywhere exterior provides a good balance between comfort and capability.
So it’s maybe very appropriate that the trailer is called Libra – the seventh astrological sign in the Zodiac, which is symbolised by the scales.
CHASSIS, AXLE AND SUSPENSION
The GT Libra chassis is hot dip galvanised to provide rust protection, as is the body which is galvanised mild steel sheeting that has a powdercoating final finish.
An independent rubberride suspension ensures the trailer can tackle tough terrain.
The Libra comes standard with Velocity 245/70R16 111S XL Raptor all-terrain tyres.
A 90 L water tank (stainless steel) is fitted underneath the trailer right behind the axle (rated 2,5 ton).
Tare 630 kg
GVM 1 500 kg
Payload 870 kg
Length 4 383 mm
Width 1 830 mm
Height (closed) 1 460 mm
Ground clearance 570 mm
Price From R170 000
Optional extras: Awning, large tent, small tent, Ostrich-wing, fridge, geyser, solar, DC charger.
GT Campers says the trailer can be set up in less than two minutes, which is probably true if you are familiar with the vehicle and have someone to help you.
Once you’ve parked your Libra in the resort (or anywhere in the bush, since it’s a fully off-road-capable unit), you start by moving the spare wheel that’s situated at the back of the trailer on an arm, to the side.
Lower the front of the trailer as far as possible with the jockey wheel to lift the rear, which ensures that the corner steadies will not hit the ground when opening the trailer.
Release the four latches on the sides and lift the trailer roof to the back of the unit, which is easy to do, thanks to gas struts.
As the roof flips open, it creates your interior floor, and starts propping up the tent.
Now you have step on the rear end of the floor (in the middle) until the rear legs touch the ground.
Once the tent is open, but not yet fully set up, it’s a good time to wind the jockey wheel up until the trailer is level and all the corner steadies are firmly on the ground.
To finish the main tent setup you have to get inside and lift the front and back sections until they click into place.
Once this is done, the rally tent can be pitched to create a lot of shade on the left side of the trailer, where the outside kitchen is located.
With the trailer closed, the Libra measures just 1 460 mm in height, and is 1 830 mm wide and 4 383 mm long from the coupler at the front to the spare wheel on the back.
At this height, towing the Libra is a breeze – the low profile helps with aerodynamics and thus fuel consumption, and you can also see the traffic behind you.
Combine this with a ground clearance of 570 mm, and you have a trailer ready to tackle the off-road.
While the Libra might look relatively small compared to many traditional off-roaders, it provides impressive space and amenities once set up.
Let’s start at the front. The Libra’s nose cone can be accessed from either side.
On the left it houses three drawers on slide-out rails, and on the right is your fridge/freezer.
The Libra has another unique design feature in the front of the nosecone.
Here there are two permanently connected gas bottles, in front of which is a rock protector/deflector.
This protector is constructed from a horizontal rectangular frame (which bends back towards the trailer at the edges) with netting stretched on the inside.
The exterior kitchen is behind two hatches on the left side (passenger) of the Libra.
Sliding out from the hatch nearest to the nose cone is the kitchen and some storage.
The lid / work surface slides to the front to reveal packing space.
This is a great place to store your gas plate stove, as the connection for the gas is right below the kitchen (gas bottles stay fixed on the nose unit).
There is another work surface that slides out to the back, and which has a designated area to insert a washbasin.
An additional table can be clipped onto this unit to create even more work space.
The second hatch on the left (above the wheel) is a “tea/coffee station”, where there are a few storage containers and glass mugs set in cut foam.
To the right of the tea station are two Hella plug points, as well as three 220 V plug points.
On the other side of the GT Camper are similar size hatches – one which houses the fridge/freezer, and the other two are for storage.
Your power and water connections are also on this side, and the spare wheel mount opens to the right side.
Entrance to the trailer is from the back.
Stepping into the Libra, two things will immediately draw your attention: the hard floor, and the feeling of space and openness inside.
The floor area measures 2,1 m x 1,7 m, which is more than enough space for even two people to move around in, and will make getting dressed very comfortable.
The tent is an impressive 1,9 m at its lowest point, and only gets higher to the middle, so even the Springbok’s tallest lock will have enough headroom inside the tent! The entire front of the Libra is dedicated to the Queensize bed.
Getting into your bed is as easy as walking up two small steps – no need to clamber up or down a ladder.
The bottom step is a fold-up unit that is permanently fixed to the trailer.
The second step is actually the top of the storage space for the tent poles.
Two deep cycle batteries are also housed in this space, one on either side.
Packing space in the Libra is located under the bed.
You can access the two drawers either by pulling them out on the slides, or you can lift the entire bed (on gas struts) and access the drawers from the top. There’s enough room to pack a lot of items.
And if this isn’t enough, there’s more packing space on the sides of the drawers, as well as below them.
The slide-out drawers and the packing space that forms the second step can also be accessed when the trailer is closed (you just have to swing away the spare wheel from the back first).
There are three windows around the bed area, one at the back and one on either side.
The windows have mosquito netting (similar to the doors on the side and back) that can also be completely zipped shut, or completely opened.
There is another window in the roof which helps with air circulation, but you can’t see the sky as the roof tent is in the way.